Can Better Communication Lead to Better Sex?4 Min Read
When you typically think of your sex organs — or even about your partner’s — a few obvious contenders likely come to mind. But how long does it take you to include your brain in that list?
Yep, the brain — the largest, and possibly most important, of the bunch for a whole host of reasons. But today we’ll focus on communication.
Sexual communication may seem less “sexy” than physical finesse, but it is undoubtedly a crucial skill when it comes to having a great sex life. In the book “Becoming Cliterate: Why Orgasm Equality Matters — and How to Get It,” author Laurie Mintz explains that almost every client she has ever had has experienced some type of communication problem with a partner. In other words, communication is rarely perfect — so if you’re struggling to connect with or express yourself to your partner, you’re not alone. When looking at areas in which most people can improve, there are two key components that Mintz outlines: beliefs and skills.
Mintz defines four faulty mindsets (aka beliefs), as both common and problematic:
“I shouldn't have to say what I want.”
“I'm sure I know.”
“It’s useless to discuss.”
“Fights have winners and losers.”
While the exact phrasing might vary based on your experience, I’m sure the gist of each is recognizable in some way. These ideas create a precedent of both silence and miscommunication — in other words, why bother even opening up to begin with?
In order to find a compromise or make sure you both are on the same page, you have to speak up about what it is you are looking for. Give yourself the chance of getting what you want by stating it clearly. If a conversation ever turns into a fight, Mintz stresses that the purpose may not necessarily be to hurt each other, or establish a winner, but to resolve the issue.
With sex specifically, touch sensitivity and the inherent physical intimacy make communication especially important. Every person’s body responds to, and experiences, sexual stimulation differently. Speaking up about what you’re craving takes practice, but it’s worth it — you wouldn’t expect your partner to be a mind reader, would you?
Skill 1: Ask your question in as straightforward a manner as possible. If it isn't a question, then don't make it seem like one.
If you can, try to not ask questions that aren’t actually questions, even though it can be easier in the moment than directly stating your needs. For example, instead of “Do you think we can try this?,” say “I’m interested in X, what do you think?”
Skill 2: Start sentences with “I” rather than “you.”
Framing statements as driven by your partner — in other words, “You” — is almost always guaranteed to result in a nonproductive conversation, as it puts your partner on the defensive. Try to start with “I,” as well as how you feel — but be careful here: Mintz explains a statement like, “I think you are acting like an asshole,” is still a “You” statement. Focusing on how you feel is typically a safe and less abrasive way to enter a disagreement.
Skill 3: Meta-communication: Talk about what you are going to talk about.
Think of this habit like a soft launch to the larger conversation, or a commercial highlighting the big points. Before you make your point, say what you’re feeling about the concept. For example, “There is something I want to talk about but I am afraid you are going to feel criticized…” This can help reduce the chances of miscommunication or defensive responses. This can be particularly helpful before expressing your “I” statement.
Skill 4: Find the truth in the statement your partner is making. It usually exists!
Statements such as “I understand that your feelings are valid,” or “I see your point here,” can help de-escalate almost any situation. Restating some of your partner’s thoughts or feelings in these phrases can also help someone feel more heard.
It’s also worth regularly incorporating positive statements into your relationship dialogue, whether or not you’re actively fighting or in a period of disconnect. Learning how to communicate is worth it in all facets of your life, but especially a romantic or sexual relationship.
What’s more, good communication isn’t always about expressing the frustrations. According to Mintz, Famous psychological researcher, Dr. John Gottman, is known for being able to predict with 90 percent accuracy who will remain married and who is headed for divorce based on positive versus negative communication. Exemplary communication holds space for five compliments for every criticism. That said, keep the positivity authentic, as compliments or positive affirmations that highlight specific attributes or characteristics tend to resonate best. I always think of the quote “If you see something beautiful in someone, speak it.”
And if you have worked on incorporating these key skills and still see no changes, your next response can be…